Believe it or not, April is National Foot Health Awareness Month, so what better time to cover keeping your feet pain-free than now? Frankly, every day should be foot health awareness day, because let’s face it…these dogs are always hurting us. They get injured. They’re deformed from the time we’re born. We wear the wrong shoes most of our lives, and they bear the weight of our entire body. Here’s how to help keep them pain-free and give them a little love while you’re at it.
- Rest: If your feet are hurting, get off them for a little while.
- Elevate your legs and feet, especially if they’re swollen.
- Massage your feet, or even better…get someone else to do it.
- Hold hands with your feet, just like you would someone’s hand. Stretch those toes all around with your fingers. Hand sanitizer works great on feet too…
- Give yourself a pedicure (especially while practicing social distancing keeps us from our professional mani-pedis).
- Wear shoes with a wide toe box. Most of the time we are squishing our toes and forefoot into shoes which are too tight. This compresses blood vessels and nerves, resulting in pain, as well as deforming forces.
- If you suffer from plantar fasciitis (heel pain), stretch the plantar fascia several times a day and certainly before you get out of bed in the morning. If you’ve been sitting for a while, with your feet pointed down, stretch before you stand up. This is my favorite stretch. If you’re looking for variety, you can find plenty on the internet.
- When sitting for long periods of time, try to spend some of the time with your feet flat on the ground. This keeps the plantar fascia and the Achilles tendon from tightening up.
- If you suffer from a lot of foot and ankle pain, consider wearing stiff-soled-over-the-ankle-lace-up-hiking boots. Read my post regarding the benefits of these shoes.
- Unless your foot is broken and facing the wrong direction, turning numb and blue, or you see a bone sticking out of the skin, it might be reasonable to ice and elevate the leg, get on crutches, and see your primary care doc or orthopedic surgeon the next day. Again…thinking in terms of avoiding emergency rooms. You might be less likely to run into Covid-19 positive patients in urgent care facilities as well, but buyer beware…these facilities are sometimes out-of-network. The bill could be expensive.
- If you suffer from pain in your Achilles tendon, consider ordering 1 cm shoe lifts on line, and putting them in both shoes. This will help take the tension off your tendon temporarily.
- Catch in-grown toenails early, before the skin grows over the edge of the nail and becomes infected. Don’t clip the nail back. Massage the swollen skin away from the nail. Stop wearing shoes that put pressure on the side of your toe. Wear sandals, or no shoes. Yes…even flip-flops. Pressure from shoes and socks are the usual culprit.
- If you suffer from peripheral neuropathy, try to keep your feet warm…without burning them. Fat woolly socks, heating pads and warm baths can give temporary relief.
- Tight socks often result in painful feet. We tend to blame shoes, but often tight socks are the problem. Try a pair of diabetic socks. You can buy a cheap pair at your local drug store. They have a loose weave compared to regular socks, and this relieves the pressure on delicate nerves and blood vessels, especially in aging feet.
- ON DAY ONE of plantar fascia pain or Achilles tendon pain, pay attention! Do not ignore. Stretch, rest, wear the hiking boots, and do the things I said to do above. These are two conditions for which there are no miraculous treatment options, and can plague you for months or longer! I think I’ll do a post on Day One conditions.
- Think you broke a toe? Buddy tape it to the next one, until you can see your doctor.